A Naga perspective of Naga struggle: GOI stop sleeping

Published in Feb. 2012

Press Release

Naga struggle for independence not a law and order problem, argues Naga Peace Facilitation Committee

The history of the resistance movement of the Nagas is dated back to 19th century when the colonial British and other forces ventured into the Naga Ancestral Domain. The Nagas as a nationality group distinct from other races have always been fighting against any intrusion and outside interference in their day-to-day independent affairs. Thus, when India forcibly tried to bring Nagas into the Indian Union, the Nagas refused and rejected such idea of being an Indian. While the Indians were preparing to celebrate their Independence on August 15, 1947, the Nagas under the banner of Naga National Council (NNC) declared their own Independence on August 14, 1947, a day ahead. The history of Indo-Naga conflict incepted since then continued until today without solution insight.

Due to the historical, political, socio-economic, religious and cultural incompatibilities, clash of civilizations and differential national identities between the Indians and the Nagas, the conflict over a political issue has become more complicated and protracted. One can vividly recollect the Memorandum submitted by the Naga Club to the Simon Commission on January 10, 1929 which stated that “Nagas should be left alone like they were in ancient times”. History has clearly shown that Nagas never want to be under any hegemony and domination by the foreign forces.

Indian and Burmese States have always been trying their utmost to subjugate, suppress and crush the Naga National Movement by using various strategies and policies. However, the Nagas, being a warrior nation, continued to have faith and aspiration to be a distinct national entity. Defying the Nagas’ yearn for Sovereign Independent Naga State, the Government of India, in order to bring more division within the Naga family, created Nagaland State on December 1,1963 which was out-rightly rejected by the NNC.

Nevertheless, in order to thrash out a solution, the Government of India (GOI) and the Nagas entered into the First Ceasefire in 1964. The ceasefire collapsed like a pack of card after six rounds of talks at the Prime Ministerial Level, because of the GOI’s rigidity to solve the issue only within four corners of the Indian Constitution disrespecting the Nagas’ aspiration for Independence. Since 1972, the Naga Affairs was transferred from Ministry of External Affairs to Ministry of Home Affairs to project Nagas’ struggle for political rights as mere “law and order problems”.

The conflict and war continued resulting in the death of many Naga civilians apart from combatant Armies on both sides. Unaccountable gross human rights violations were committed by the Indian armed forces against the Nagas. Undeterred by such military assaults and atrocities, the Nagas hold fast to their hope for equal political status as any other nation-state to build the Naga cultural communities into single political entity with pride and fervor. There was an increased spirit of Naga nationalism in the face of brutal military campaign and various repressive agencies trying to disunite the Nagas.

As late as in the 1990s, the Indian leadership and many military generals came to realize that Naga issue is a political one which cannot be solved through military might, but should be solved by political means and dialogue. Indian Government started sending its feelers, met the Naga leadership for political discussion to solve the issue through peaceful means. The Naga leadership responded positively to the call of time. Several years of bloody battle between the Indian and Burmese States on the one side and the Nagas on the other gave way to a bilateral political dialogues when Second Indo-Naga Ceasefire was signed on August 1, 1997 with three primary principles of negotiation, i.e., (a) the talk is unconditional, (b) at the highest level, meaning at the Prime Ministerial Level, and (c) the talk will be held outside India, meaning at the third country. The signing of Ceasefire between the GOI and the NSCN-IM was subsequently followed by a Ceasefire between the GOI and the NSCN-K in 2003.

However, the hard earned way of bringing the two conflicting parties to the negotiating table has been taken for granted by the Government of India, without any urgency to bring forth lasting and a meaningful political solution to the Indo-Naga problem. Inspite of repeated appeals from different sections of Naga society, the political talks between the two parties remains a stalemate for the obvious reason that the GOI has never been serious about the Indo-Naga political problem. Therefore, time has come for the Nagas to be categorical with the demand and assert their rights while articulating the factors leading to the deadlock of the bilateral political dialogue.

►Insincerity of GOI on Indo-Naga Peace Process Exposed:
The insincere approach of the GOI could not have been clearer than the rolling back of the terms “Without Territorial Limits” from the June 14, 2001 Bangkok Agreement with regards to the Ceasefire coverage areas after the Meiteis’ virulent protest in Imphal. The GOI’s recognition of the “Unique History and Situation of the Nagas” on July 11, 2002 does not make much sense because the GOI has considerably failed to seek a solution based on such recognition. It is observed that the GOI has not come out from its old and traditional methods of conflict management which is not only futile but also archaic and redundant. We have been witnessing time after time how the GOI talks peace while at the same time colonial ‘Divide and Rule’ policy is being exhibited against the Nagas. Our memory is still fresh of Mr. Loshou and Mr. Chakho who were brutally murdered by the Indian state military forces during the standoff at Mao Gate on 6th May, 2010 when the Ato Kilonser Th. Muivah was denied entry into his birthplace. While the GOI, on the one hand, gave nod to the journey of Ato Kilonser to his native village, on the other hand, they used Ibobi’s Government and Meitei populace to sabotage the itinerary, which had flared up communal tension between the Nagas and the Meiteis.

GOI blamed Ibobi’s Government for barring Th. Muivah from entering the state of Manipur and creating the unprecedented situation thereafter. However, this pitiable politics of GOI did not go uncaught. When the Government of Nagaland gave security permission to Chairman Isak Chisi Swu and Ato Kilonser to address the public gathering at Zunheboto on 14th Jan., 2012 on the invitation of Sumi Hoho, Ministry of Home Affairs (GoI) denied the permission to the entourage of Collective Leadership at the eleventh hour. Since they could not find any Ibobi or Meitei trump card in Nagaland to incarcerate the Naga leaders from meeting their people, MHA issued silliest conditions to the Collective Leadership and their cavalcades, i.e. (a) Not more than 20 vehicles including the local escorts to be used for the journey (b) Collective Leadership cannot carry arms, (c) Their Security personal cannot carry arms even in a concealed manner, and, (d) Collective Leadership must not hold any public meeting and press conference along the journey and at Zunheboto.

Such irrational restrictions that directly contradict the principles of political talks have not only left the peace process hanging with uncertainty but also exposed the double standard of the Indian Government.

►Criminalising the Nagas’ struggle for Self-Determination:
To make the matter worst, Government of India is working day and night to paint the rightful struggle of the Nagas as a terrorist activity. On 27th September 2010, Ningkhan Shimray, member of NSCN (IM), was whisked away from Kathmandu airport by Indian Intelligent Agencies in connivance with the Nepal Intelligence and on October 2, 2010, National Investigation Agency (NIA) stage-managed the arrest of Shimray in Bihar and booked under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 (UAPA). He is allegedly framed for procuring arms and conspiracy to wage war against India.

However, Government of India has intentionally failed to understand that Mr. Shimray was on his way to participate the peace talks to be held on September 29, 2010. The question is, why the NIA should term the NSCN as terrorist organization under UAPA when the GOI has lifted the ban on the NSCN in 2002? NSCN and other Naga groups did not even appear in the GOI’s list of terrorist organisations in India. The conduct of NIA not only contradicts and undermines the GOI’s efforts for peace but also signal its desperateness in trying to implicate the rest of Naga nationalists and sympathisers under the same terrorist ordinance Act. Thus, NIA’s action is nothing but to criminalize the Nagas’ struggle for Self-Determination and exterminate the Nagas from the face of the earth, and push the Nagas’ history, culture and identity into oblivion. NIA is reminded of the fact that there was virtual army rule in the North East where reign of terror was unleashed against the people. GOI has also mishandled the Kashmir and the Maoist problems on the pretext of one or the other reason.

►GOI’s attempt to sabotage the peace process at its last stage:
Government of India has always been saying that Nagas must be united and reconciled due to the fact that GOI cannot afford to negotiate a solution to all factions. Therefore, with the painstaking endeavors of Forum for Naga Reconciliation (FNR) under the aegis of Dr. Wati Aier prayerfully brought all the infighting Naga nationalist’s organizations to reconciliation process, that showed the way to form One National Government of the Nagas.

In view of this efficacious effort of FNR and the Naga public, the Government of India began to prick the neighboring communities like the Meiteis and the Assamese to protest against the rightful demands of the Nagas. For which, particularly the Meiteis under Ibobi’s leadership have diabolically locked horns with the Nagas on several occasions. Taking advantage of the vulnerable ethnic problems in the region, Government of India uses communal equation to suppress the rightful aspiration of the Nagas. The GOI has taken undue advantage in this peace process to disunite the Nagas. GOI’s utterances of unity, peace and reconciliation among the Naga groups are highly dubious.

►The Support Base of the Naga Movement is rooted in the Naga Public:
GOI thinks that general Naga public has grown tired of Naga nationalism, and Naga Movement has lost the Support base of the Naga public. GOI leveled that the general Naga public has willingly embraced Indian constitutional system, while it is only the underground organizations fighting against the Government of India without any public support.

However, GOI has miserably failed to realize that the general Naga public has been the base of the Nationalists’ organisations all these 60 years of the Nagas’ struggle. The Nagas have been supporting the ongoing peace process for the last 14 years in the hope of achieving their genuine aspiration for a meaningful political solution. However, the action and policy of the Ministry of Home Affairs (GOI) and its agencies goes against the spirit of the principles of peace talks.

Despite the evidential proof of the Nagas being serious to solve and transform the conflict, the MHA is trying all out to derail and abrogate the political talks by delegitimizing the Naga nationalists’ organisations as a terrorist organization. We must never forget that Government of India is taking undue advantage of the peace talks to muzzle the rights of the Nagas by de-motivating and demoralizing the Nagas and their leadership.

►The Collective Leadership Wield the Mandate of the Naga People:
In the run up to the Ceasefire, the Collective Leadership of NSCN (IM) and its functionaries have been mandated to represent the Nagas in the political negotiation, through series of public consultative meetings led by various Naga frontal organizations such as, Naga Hoho, Naga Mothers’ Association, Naga Students’ Federation, Eastern Naga Students’ Federation, Naga People’s Movement for Human Rights, United Naga Council, All Naga Students’ Association, Manipur, etc. Yet, the Government of India continues to overlook the powers of representation rested with the Collective Leadership by the Naga people.

Thus, GOI has dared to impose restrictions on the Collective Leadership in its latest development entirely to sabotage the peace process. Despite such callous policy on the part of GOI, the Naga Leaders of the three political groups – NSCN/GPRN, GPRN/NSCN and NNC/FGN is organising the Naga people consultation meeting in Dimapur on February 29, 2012 convened by Forum for Naga Reconciliation (FNR) with the objectives of fostering peace, unity and reconciliation, and also attempt to realise one National Government of the Nagas. All the Naga villages’ chiefs, GBs, Naga Civil Societies, leaders of the Religious Institutions, NGOs etc. have been invited for the meeting.

►Nagas in Delhi Demand a Timeframed Political Solution:
As a follow up action of the Naga people consultation meeting, Nagas in Delhi under the aegis of NAGA PEACE FECILITATION COMMITTEE, DELHI in solidarity with the Naga society back home and the Collective Leadership has decided to have REMONSTRATION RALLY on February 24, 2012 at 1 PM from Jantar Mantar to Parliament Street against the GOI for trying to scuttle the political talks with deceptive policies, so as to find an early and a meaningful political solution within a timeframed manner to the protracted Indo-Naga problem.

We want the Indian Government to speed up the peace process with sincere approach having a political will and commitment to solve and transform the drawn out conflict. GOI must stop sleeping over the issue, rather it should start recognizing and accepting the Unique History, Identity, Socio-Cultural and Political Reality of the Nagas. In order to show that Nagas have every right to be independent the Nagas in Delhi once again must bring forth thousands of volunteers all dressed in traditional attires to march down to the Delhi street.

We will take forth the message to the world community that “indigenous Nagas marches in cultural attires in the political capital of India to reclaim the rights of the Nagas”. We must send out the message loud and clear to the global citizens that Nagas genuinely aspires to be free. The committee appeal all the Nagas in Delhi, be it government or private employees, students and entrepreneurs to take leave on that stipulated day for a mass rally.

Issued in the interest of the public by NAGA PEACE FACILITATION COMMITTEE, DELHI

One government, one tax – a myth or reality?

Dr. K. Hoshi: 22 Jun. 2014 3:24 AM IST

Of late, there have been increasing civil uprisings against the so-called Naga Political Groups (NPG) for their excesses, especially in taxation. This is bad for Naga national politics because we will lose our face in the eyes of the world. Any political institution that has lost the confidence and support of the general public will ultimately come tumbling down sooner than later.

“One Government, one tax”; a resolution adopted by Against Corruption and Unabated Taxation (ACAUT) on October 31, 2013 emanated from protest against many years of suffering in the hands of some so-called national workers and apathy of the State towards the plight of the people. The Central government agencies in Nagaland will naturally turn a blind eye to the problem because it is serving their purpose.

In the past, Nagas had only one political institution; the Naga National Council (NNC) and and one national government; the Federal Government of Nagaland (FGN). NNC had levied its membership fee @ Re. 1.00 per head and household tax @ Rs. 10.00 per household. Later on, when FGN was formed in 1956, the Naga national government levied additional annual army maintenance tax @ Rs. 100.00 per household. All other contributions were in the form of free-will gift that varied from hard cash to kinds; anything that could sustain the national workers. The national workers gladly accepted any gift without complaint. This is the type of NPG Nagas long for, today. NPGs of present day will not accept a pumpkin for a contribution. They will not accept anything less than hard cash. That’s the difference between national workers of yesteryears and of today.
In theory; “one government, one tax” is a very beautiful slogan. But in practice; it is not without complications because unification seems the last thing in the minds of the NPGs. While ACAUT’s resolution for one government is quite legitimate, unity as a timeless pre-condition for tax contribution towards Naga national cause will have far-reaching ramifications. It will lead to self-destruction from actions and counter-actions. It is already happening.

Forum for Naga Reconciliation (FNR) has been working for reconciliation and unity of the NPGs since 2008. There’s no denying the fact that they have achieved reconciliation to a great extent. Yet, the dream of one national government still remains elusive. Which group is responsible for delaying the Naga unity? Isn’t it high time that FNR come out clear on this? If FNR is for the people, it should also be answerable to the people. Let Naga people know the truth. What’s the point endlessly trying to crack the hard nut whose hearts God must have hardened. People’s patience has a limit. It’s time that Nagas are allowed to call spade, a spade.

The resolution of ACAUT had committed that the people are prepared to pay tax to one unified Naga national government in addition to the State Government. This plainly puts that people in general still cherish for Naga sovereignty. The NPGs need to realize that Nagas are not refusing to pay tax for a national cause. The people are only refusing to pay tax to multiple governments. The people are against paying tax to NPGs that are misusing tax payers’ money for personal gratification without transparency and accountability. Constructing palatial houses, driving latest MUV/SUVs, leading luxurious life-style, etc. have become mockery to tax payers. What people want is for the national governments to channelize tax payers’ money through a unified government and use it to promote Naga cause at home and across the world.

It is unbecoming of the NPGs and their governments to relegate themselves to Nagaland State’s internal affairs. Never had the feeling of Nagas of Nagaland State and Nagas of outside Nagaland State so pronounced as of today. This is partly the creation of the national governments. As far as Naga national politics for sovereignty is concerned, the Nagas had integrated themselves, both territorially and emotionally in Article 1 of Naga Yehzabo. Therefore, it is self-defeating to call ourselves Nagas of Nagaland State or Nagas of other Indian States.
Naga sovereignty is not something to be wished away; at least, not for the sake of the fallen true patriots. Therefore, if sovereignty is still our goal, it is imperative that we exercise caution and restraint in our talks and actions, lest our own folly is used against us by our ever watchful adversary to their advantage.

Any public action against the excesses should be subjective and not against the political institution, provided the NPGs do not shield the criminals. A criminal is a criminal, irrespective of whether one is in this group or that group. The actions of some NPGs and their ranks and file are doing dis-service to Naga national cause by deviating from national principle. They are no less anti-national than what they had branded the articulate common men. It’s time to segregate true nationalists from pseudo-nationalists. Any NPG that is against Naga unity must be pseudo-nationalist. We owe it to the true nationalists; past, present and future for their service because Naga National politics is fated to stay so long as sovereignty is the dream or till it is totally wiped out by our adversary through its divisive policy as of today.

Naga Movement In Manipur: Its Genesis And Impact On State Politics

Over the decades, the Naga integration movement has predictably served to catalyze and consolidate oppositional democratic politics along ethnic lines and furthering hill-valley divide in Manipur. This trend has exacerbated in the last decade as NSCN-IM seems to seek a negotiating leverage from the deepening hill-valley divide.

Naga integration (or South Nagalim) movement which captured public discourse after the June Uprising in 2001 in Manipur has a long genesis. In a manner of speaking, its roots can be traced as far back as 1929, whereby the Simon Commission responded to a memorandum signed by Nihu Angami and 19 other members of Kohima Club (a forum for interaction with British officials that was established in 1881), granted “Excluded Area” tag to some areas of Naga Hill District. In 1945, Kohima Club metamorphosed into the Naga Hill District Council (NHDC) and, later in 1946, into the Naga National Council under the initiative of Angami Zapu Phizo. These events in Nagaland impressed upon the contiguous tribal areas of Manipur, particularly Mao sub-division of Manipur North District. The gradual influence from the neighboring state of Nagaland was witnessed among the Mao Nagas. Athiko Daiho1 was the pioneer of this Naga integration movement in Manipur.

Seed of Restlessness in Manipur

During 1945–46, Manipur witnessed a political turning point when many leaders of different political parties came to know of a British plan to give freedom to the princely kingdoms. Many leaders wanted Manipur to form a democratic country, while some wanted constitutional monarchy. Political parties like Praja Samelini, Praja Mandal, and Manipur State Congress pressed the demand for establishing a legislative assembly. On November 20, 1946, the then king of Manipur, Maharaja Bodhachandra, declared the formation of a constitution-making committee with 21 representative members of the hills and the valley people. Later, Manipur State Durbar was dissolved on July 1, 1947, and Manipur State Council was established on the same day.2

By 1946, there were some voices from the Mao area of Manipur for secession of Naga-inhabited areas from the state, though not from India. A memorandum was submitted to the Governor of Assam by the khullakpas (village chiefs) and elders of the Mao Nagas, mentioning that their “people would be humiliated if the British officers make them to step in Manipur state and their administration is put directly under the Manipur State Durbar.” They also asserted that except for “occasional inroads of the Manipuris in very limited hill villages, the Manipuri Maharaja had never subjugated the hill villages in pre-British days” and that they “were quite independent.” So they requested the Governor “to make their hills a directly British controlled territory as the other neighboring hill districts with whom they share common customs, traditions, social organizations, etc.”3 In 1947, under the leadership of Phizo, Naga National Council (NNC) had emerged and demanded independent Nagaland for Naga-inhabited areas of Tuensang from Arunachal Pradesh and Mao from Manipur. Phizo might have believed that his demands could strengthen with the involvement of Naga people of Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh. He was later joined by Athiko Daiho.4

During the drafting of Manipur Constitution, Daiho strongly argued that the hill tribes should have the right to secede from the state after five years. His proposal was rejected.5 Another major step towards Naga unification was circulation of a document by Daiho in September 1948 “to a select circle of influential leaders” who dealt with future Naga situation in view of the approaching British departure. He explained his contention from many points of view. Historically, Manipur hills had probably been taken under state administration immediately after 1891, and that though “there might be irregular and occasional inroads of the Manipuri kings’ forces in the hills on its way to Dimapur, Silchar or Burma and might possibly have taken spoils from the surrounding villages of the paths,” the hills were “not formally conquered and no regular levy or tribute was paid by the Hills to the then king of Manipur.”6 About the then Hill administration he said, “Hills cadre is separate from that of the state proper, Valley. The Hill administration is run by the President of Manipur State Durbar. So, Hills matters do not come under the State Durbar as a whole.” From a political point of view, he said that though the hills comprised 7/8th of the total area of the state, its inhabitants will always be a minority in Manipur as their population comprised roughly 2/5th of the whole population. This problem, he insisted, was “created” by accidental political distribution of boundaries at the advent of the British.”7 He further expressed his fear that if the hills of the Manipur forms a part of Manipur state, the inhabitants of the hills would be in a socially inferior position amongst the “more educated and civilized” Hindus.

Therefore, he wanted the “British officers of the Hills who are acquainted with Hill opinions” to decide the hills’ future or that a “plebiscite of Hill men be summoned on elected or nominated representative basis of one man in every 1000 people and decide.”8 Thus what he desired was either (i) a federal Hills formed by “Lushai Hill, Somra Tract, Chin HillsNaga Hills, etc.,” or (ii) that the hills of Manipur “be formed into a separate district by itself directly under the provincial control,” or (iii) that the different parts of the hills may be disintegrated and joined with Naga Hills, North-Cachar HillsLushai Hills, Chin Hills and Somra Tract according to convenience.9

Simultaneously with the demand for secession of Naga-inhabited areas of Manipur, two different and contesting political trends were also noticeable amongst the Nagas. One was represented by the Naga chiefs and their allies who had not changed their traditional values and outlook. The other trend was represented by the educated Christian Nagas who had distanced themselves from their root/past and were quite conscious of the then changing situation all around.

The educated Christian Nagas decided not to join the Interim Council of Manipur. This stand followed the removal of the clause “‘Right to Freedom of Action’ after five years” from the final draft of the Manipur State Constitution Act, 1947. The said provision was seen by these Christian Nagas as “right to secession” from Manipur as well as from India.10 When this clause was ultimately removed, they began toying with the idea of secession of Naga areas of Manipur from the state as well as from India. On August 14, 1947 some Nagas in Kohima had declared independence for the Nagas of Manipur hills and Cachar, and that they were “negotiating to join Pakistan Dominion on suitable terms.”11

A meeting of Manipur Hills Special Conference, held at Imphal on August 14, 1947, demanded that since India is going to be free, all parts of it and the people thereof must be allowed to run the government. But it did not mention secession either from Manipur or India.12 Meanwhile, the NNC at Kohima tried to interfere in the Naga problem in Manipur. Having closely observed the situation in Manipur, the President of NNC wrote to the Maharaja of Manipur:

The political upheaval of the hill people in your state has attracted the keenest interest and close attention of the Naga National Council. Surely the National Council attaches very great importance to the fact that, through no fault of ours, that “upheaval” has directly touched the root of our National Council. As hill men we have interest in them; as neighbor, we are equally interested in your people and your state. Naturally, as a freedom fighting organization the NNC observes, with great sympathy, all the freedom fighting forces.13

Hailing the development as “a natural corollary of national consciousness” and their right to secession as a “reasonable demand,” the President of NNC expressed his belief that Maharaja would lose no time in granting the demand thereby paving the way of good will between the hills and the valley and also the state and the NNC as a whole.”14 Maharaja asked the Chief Minister to take urgent action, but the Chief Minister replied that “the Council has not been recognized by the state and is not of the state. No action need be taken.”15 This indifference of the authority made Daiho retrace his stand of secession from India. In a resolution of Naga National League (NNL) under his president-ship, Daiho stated that the organization shall primarily speak on behalf of the Nagas of Manipur but pledged itself to stand together with other hill tribes in the state as well as outside it in order to demand self-determination of the hill peoples in general without in any way injuring the general interests of Assam or India.16 The main idea of the League was unity of all the Naga tribes as well as the non-Naga tribes of the state and work out their future according to the inclination, wishes and aspirations of the respective tribes. It also aimed to “bring together under one district administration the different scattered, allied tribes who happened to be in different districts of Assam but contiguous in area.”17 The term “self-determination” mentioned in the resolution was defined as “consolidation of tribes of the same stock under the district administrations in order to facilitate working of the future of that tribe who happen to be scattered living under different districts but contiguous in area.”18

Another memorandum was also submitted to Sardar Patel, the then Deputy Prime Minister of India, on January 24, 1948 by A. Daiho and N. Modoli of NNL along with some Mao Naga chiefs and headmen. The memorandum opined that the conservation “of their culture, tradition, customary right, usages and political practices” would not be possible if the Naga people and their contiguous geography were placed under different influences and policies.”19 They insisted that “on the basis of linguistic provinces and consolidation of the same stock of people” the Nagas of different areas but contiguous in geography should be consolidated under one administrative unit and that nothing short of this demand would be acceptable to the Nagas of Manipur.

As no positive response was received from the Government of India (GoI) and Government of Manipur, a “Provisional Government” was set up in order to start various agitations. As the first strategy, a no-house-tax campaign was started. In the following month, Daiho declared himself as leader of the Mao Nagas and did not pay tax to the state government. Instead, tax was collected by him for the Provisional Government.20 His followers indulged in subversive activities by way of violating state rules. They forcibly broke through the Mao Gate and allowed lorries full of potato to cross the state gate without paying duties, even seized members of the state police and tortured them.21

On March 9, 1948, Daiho submitted a memorandum to the Government of India arguing that his movement was “not at all communal, but broadly based on linguistic provinces of India,” and they wanted to secure their “due rights and liberties within free India as a freedom loving people.” Further, NNL Secretary K. Sashipri sent a letter to the Secretary, Ministry of State, New Delhi, expressing that A. Daiho may enter into an agreement with the Government of India on behalf of the Mao and other allied Nagas of Manipur in connection with their right to self-determination. Daiho was arrested but released on August 26, 1948 by Chief Minister of Manipur M.K. Priyobarta. Later when Daiho refused to appear before the Hill Bench of Manipur Court, the state authority rushed to arrest Daiho. War cries were heard on the arrival of the police with the crowd gesticulating and shouting anti-state slogans. An attempt to peacefully arrest Daiho failed as the mob did not allow the authority to pass through the barricades they had built. Assam Rifles took to force with lathi charge. After about 50 minutes, mob became very tense, and as soon as the police confirmed that some unlicensed arms were to be used by the followers of Daiho from the nearby jungle, Assam Rifles opened fire resulting in two deaths and two wounded. Later, Daiho along with Medoli and Loili were arrested from the area. They were later kept in Calcutta jail.22 Their arrest had greatly demoralized the followers. Meanwhile, an event of historical significance was building up. Manipur was merged into India in 1949, thus diverting the first movement for the Naga integration or secession of Naga inhabited areas from Manipur for the time being.

Threat to Territorial Integrity of Manipur

The threat to territorial integrity of Manipur started around 1946 with the upsurge of ethnic secessionism. Mao Nagas started an agitation to integrate Mao areas with Nagaland. In Manipur, there were two agitations after 1947. One was Hmar Movement for the merger with Lushai Hills as inspired by the Mizo Union of the Lushai Hill District. The other was that of Naga People’s League which stood for the independence of Nagas in Mao area of northern Manipur. But other Nagas and Kukis of Manipur did not participate in these movements. The Nagas of Manipur did not participate in the plebiscite of 1951 which was regarded as the bedrock of Naga independence movement. Their non-participation in the plebiscite was regarded as a unique feature of the politics of the Nagas of Manipur.23

The demand for integration of Naga-inhabited areas of Manipur was influenced by Phizo, the pioneer of Naga revolutionary group Federal Government of Nagaland (FGN), who demanded independent Nagaland. Peace talks were started on the issue after a ceasefire agreement was clinched between the FGN and Government of India in 1964. The next peace attempt in 1975 (Shillong Accord) between the FGN and the Government of India was thwarted by Th. Muivah and Isak Swu. The latter two along with Khaplang formed another revolutionary group, National Socialist Council of Nagalim (NSCN) in 1980 with Isaac Swu as President, Khaplang as Vice-President and Th. Muivah as General Secretary, marking a new phase in the Naga independence movement. The year 1988 saw NSCN breaking up into two factions: NSCN–IM led by Isak Swu and Th. Muivah, and NSCN–K by Khaplang.

With the emergence of NSCN-IM, the demand for independent Nagalim, or integration of Naga-inhabited areas of Manipur into a new state, or to form a “Southern Nagaland” comprising the districts of Senapati, Ukhrul, Chandel and Tamenglong of Manipur got a new impetus. NSCN-IM made public its vision of a “Greater Nagaland” comprising of 1,20,000 sq. km. by expanding the present 16,579 sq. km. of Nagaland. The expanded area includes four districts of Manipur (mentioned above), five districts of Assam (parts of Sibsagar, Golahgat, Jorhat, Karbi Anglong, North Cachar Hill districts) and two districts of Arunachal Pradesh (Tirap and Changlong), with a section of Myanmar territory.24

While NSCN-K has remained focused on sovereignty for the Nagas, NSCN-IM seems to have scaled down their goal from sovereignty to “Greater Nagalim” and/or federal relations with India. Many Naga elite groups and some civil society organizations have condemned NSCN-IM’s flexible demands as sacrifice of the movement and devaluing those whose lives were sacrificed in course of the long struggle for a sovereign Nagaland. The gulf between different factions seems to be increasing day by day. Without a peaceful settlement between the two major factions, larger peace settlement seems a distant dream.

In several phases of the peace talk, the Government of India has seemingly, so far, taken cognizance of the general feeling of the people in Assam and Manipur, particularly on the issue of reshaping the existing state boundaries and shelved the demand for “Greater Nagalim” for the time being, at least.

Naga Integration and State Politics in Manipur

Though the movement for integration of Naga-inhabited areas started in 1946 in Mao area of Manipur, this became an important political issue in the state politics of the late 1960s. One of the most prominent political leaders amongst those who gained political mileage out of the issue, Rishang Keishing25 carried forward the movement with overt and covert agendas. Though the root of the Naga movement was germinated by Daiho at Mao, it was nurtured by Keishing with the formation of the Naga Integration Council at the fag end of the 1960s. With this politics in tow, Keishing could create a record of sorts by winning state assembly elections (from Phungyar assembly constituency) consecutively from 1972 to 2000.

The Naga Integration Council, formed with the aim of promoting integration of Naga-inhabited areas, was later converted into United Naga Integration Council in 1972. Not long after, the UNIC merged with the Congress Party taking assurance from the Congress to support the integration movement. Since then, Keishing has carried forward the Naga agenda as a political weapon to build up his political career. Incidentally, he was the longest serving Chief Minister of Manipur (1983-1997) until he was removed in 1997.

The political dialogue between the Government of India and NSCN-IM has crossed a decade, but it has not progressed much. Largely, this was due to the delaying tactics of the Government of India. Both the parties do not seem to be sincere in their approach, though both make claims of progress and sincerity. The Government of India has been making dual commitment both to the people of Manipur and Assam, as well as to the Naga “national” leaders. It seems that political leaders at the Centre, unable to find any amicable solution, are so far engaging in delaying tactics. On the other side, NSCN-IM merrily continues all their routine activities like taking illegal taxes from the vehicles, demanding huge amounts from the capitalist and business community and other forms of violent extortion except engaging the Indian armed forces militarily. The Government of India finds it convenient to look away from all these goings-on instead of enforcing its writ for maintaining law and order.

In the meanwhile, the pot of factional feud and hostility among Naga militant groups is kept boiling. In the circumstances, mutual recognition and reconciliation amongst the NSCN-IM, NSCN-K, and NNC become all the more daunting.

In Manipur, though, several Naga civil society organizations loyal to NSCN-IM have started implementing new strategies of organizing democratic movements since 2000.  The United Naga Council (UNC) and allied organizations staged a number of unity rally in the hill districts of Manipur and Nagaland. Bandhs, strikes, blockades, and non-cooperation movements26 of various kinds mark the main components of the new movement that is seemingly aimed at affecting public order and hopefully, earning leverage for a peace settlement with NSCN-IM.

Gradually, as a new strategy, NSCN-IM is seemingly entering into state politics, directly or indirectly, by reversing its pre-ceasefire stand of boycotting and banning elections in the hill districts. The State Assembly election of 2002 saw the NSCN-IM backing specific candidates. This was done to strengthen the peace process and also to achieve some political points for negotiation. Then, again, the organization initiated the consolidation of Naga politicians supporting “integration” through the UNC. On the eve of the 2002 election, the Naga candidates had taken an “undertaking” to contribute to the Naga consolidation and integration movement. Thus, the Naga problem has become a major political issue for the entire state. The same policy was continued in the next State Assembly election of 2007, with the UNC instructing the Naga candidate aspirants not to be candidate of a national party, condemning particularly the ruling Congress high command’s attitude and its delaying tactics.

Conclusion

Opposition parties’ attack of ruling party is a common phenomenon in democratic politics; but the mode of consolidation of the opposition in recent times carries certain significance in the state politics of Manipur. The Naga integration movement continues to play a major catalyst in this respect leaving no stone unturned in its efforts germinate and consolidate oppositional democratic politics along ethnic lines and furthering hill-valley divide in Manipur.

In the foreseeable future, too, there will be no dearth of leaders and organizations to keep the pot of Naga integration politics boiling. The price for this obsessive agenda of the NSCN-IM will be pushing two equally important agenda of the Naga struggle – one, ending of hostility among the three factions (NSCN-IM, NSCN-K and NNC), and, two, a more comprehensive and sincere engagement with/ by the Government of India – on the back-burner. This, of course, is easier said than done. Future of Naga politics in the state of Manipur, and the region as a whole, lies in the dynamics of this engagement

NOTES & REFERENCES:

1. Daiho was a Mao Naga leader (member of Manipur Constitution Drafting Committee and later Minister of Finance during Territorial Council 1963 and also elected as MLA from Karong AC in 1972, 1st Assembly election after statehood.

2 Irom Khamba Singh, “Manipurgi Houkhraba Leingaklon (since 1891)” in Voice of People’s Democracy; vol. 1, 53rd Anniversary Souvenir; Imphal: PDF, 2002, p. 55.

3 A memorandum was submitted by the Khullakpas, Gouburas and elders of the Mao Nagas to the Governor of Assam, apparently, when he visited Mao on Jan 2, 1946.

4    A. Ibobi, “Manipurgi Ngamkheida Pirakpa Cheitheng V-1,” Poknapham, November 2, 2005.

5    Gangmumei Kamei, “Ethnicity and Politics in Manipur,” in Selected Writings on Issue of Identity, Imphal: Imphal Free Press 8th year of publication, 2003, p. 36

6    A. Daiho, “My views on the tendency of future Hills administration of Manipur or Demand of the Hills,” General People, September 5, 1946.

7    Ibid.

8    Ibid.

9    Ibid.

10 Proceedings of a meeting of hill men held on Aug 13, 1947, at Imphal under the chairmanship of R. Suisa, quoted in S. Mangi, A Study on Selected Socio-Political Problems in Manipur (1947–80), unpublished Ph.D. thesis, Department of Political Science, Manipur University, p. 344.

11 Telegram from President of Naga state, Kohima to the Maharaja of Manipur on August 14, 1947, in S. Mangi, A Study on Selected Socio-Political Problems in Manipur (1947–80), p. 345.

12 Ibid., p. 346.

13 Ibid.

14 Ibid.

15 Ibid.

16 Memorandum dated January 20, 1946 signed by N. Modoli and A. Daihom, President of NNL, Ibid., p. 347.

17 Ibid.

18 Ibid.

19 Ibid., p. 349.

20 Shillong Times, September 3, 1948.

21 S. Mangi, A Study on Selected Socio-Political Problems in Manipur (1947–80), p. 349.

22 Ibid., p. 350.

23 Gangmumei Kamei, “Ethnicity and Politics in Manipur,” p. 37.

24 R.K. Mani, “A Reflection on the Indo-NSCN-IM Cease-fire Extension,” in R.K. Mani (ed.), For Our Tomorrow: Perspectives on Naga Ceasefire in Manipur, SILYA, 2001, p. 27.

25 Rishang Keishing, a Tangkhul Naga, is known as the longest serving Chief Minister of Manipur.

26  Those forms of protests manifest in specific forms, such as including nonpayment of hill house tax, longest blockade against June uprising holiday, textbook issue, school affiliation issue, banning Meitei script and entertainment elements in the hill areas, replacing signboards of district head quarters in “South Nagaland,” etc.

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*The paper is written by Laitonjam Muhindro Singh

source: manipuronline

NNC poohs-poohs settlement process

NTIMES 13Nov: NNC poohs-poohs settlement process
DIMAPUR, Nov 12 : The Naga National Council (NNC) has said that sections of the people are confusing the Nagas by talking ‘nonsense’ such as ‘integration of Naga terri-tories,’ ‘shared sovereignty’, ‘supra-state’, ‘quasi-federal’ etc.

“The status of Nagaland is clear and real. It is not built on dreams and visions. We are all familiar with the historical facts of Nagas and Nagaland which stand to testify our rights and position as independent and sovereign nation.

Having brought various Naga regional units together into one federated union on March 22, 1956, the integration of Nagaland and the formation of the Federal Government of Nagaland (FGN) was completed ,” said NNC secretary L Kaiso today.

He said that according to outfit’s ‘Article 1’ of the constitution (Yehzabo of Nagaland State), “The territory of Nagaland shall comprise all the territories of the Nagas and such other territories as the Tatar Hoho may by law admit on such terms and conditions as it may deem fit.”

The NNC leader further said, “Nagaland is not for sale. Therefore, the concerned Naga groups and the Government of India must desist immediately from such plan and talks.

Should such treachery be put to implementation by the Government of India with a section of the Nagas by avoiding the real issue of the Indo-Naga conflict, it will not bode well for India and those involved. For such an arrangement will not be the end of the Naga story and Nagaland as an independent Nation.”

L Kaiso also recalled that Nagas did not participate in free India’s first general election of 1952. “It was not a question of boycott nor a question of non-co-operation. Simply because, it was not our affair, therefore we did not participate in that election.

The Nagas of the day were clear and India understood. Subsequently, India invaded our country by waging war on the Nagas. Since then, Nagas have been going through tremendous suffering, trials and challenges. Whatever had happened, it had not and will not alter the legitimate rights of Nagaland. Nagas will move on,” he stated.

“It is painful to observe that the government of India is doling out money to its puppet state government and to the pseudo Naga groups in the name of development and settlement,” the NNC secretary added.

“It is very unfortunate for the Nagas that India refuses to leave Nagaland till today. Because of this, we the Nagas are unable to exercise our freedom and carry on with our development at will,” said the NNC leader. NNN/TSE